20 Best R&B Albums of 2016

Frank Ocean, Solange, Alicia Keys and more

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Jamila Woods, 'Heavn'
20
11/20

11. Jamila Woods, 'Heavn'

The debut from Chicago singer Jamila Woods is dreamy and hopeful and shot through with politics, its fuzzed-out textures providing a comforting backdrop for luminous ruminations on love – for Woods' hometown, for her culture and for herself. Stretched-out jams like the sparkling Chi-town ode "LSD" and the playground-chant-inspired "VRY BLK" derive their power from their simplicity, its stripped-down arrangements alluding to dusty grooves of yore while also sounding very much of 2016. The album is rife with guests – fellow Windy City denizens Chance the Rapper, Noname and Donnie Trumpet – yet Woods's presence anchors the proceedings, her gently forceful voice sounding as powerful as when it explores the possibilities offered by "black girl magic" ("Yeah, she scares the government/Déjà vu of Tubman") as it does when she's lamenting romance lost. M.J.

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